(ATTN: ADDS remarks, details in last 4 paras)
SEJONG, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Wednesday that next year's budget will help South Korea's economy recover from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hong made the remarks shortly after the National Assembly passed a 558 trillion-won (US$506 billion) budget for 2021, a net increase of 2.2 trillion won to help virus-hit small merchants and secure vaccines.
"Next year, (the government) will surely achieve our economy's recovery and rebound," Hong said in a Facebook post.
It marked the first national budget approved by the National Assembly within the legal deadline since 2014, as fierce partisan wrangling often made it difficult to pass such bills on time.
Hong hailed lawmakers' approval of the 2021 budget within the legal deadline, saying the government will swiftly allocate the budget from Jan. 1 next year to help quickly overcome the pandemic.
Next year's budget includes 3 trillion won of relief funds to help small business owners hit by a recent resurgence of coronavirus infections.
In an interview with YTN television, Hong said the funds will be offered before the Lunar New Year's holiday season in February next year.
The record budget is expected to increase the ratio of state debt to gross domestic product to 47.3 percent next year, raising concerns over fiscal soundness.
However, Hong said fiscal policy must play an active role to cope with an economic crisis like the coronavirus pandemic and that the government will also come up with measures to secure fiscal soundness.
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